Maybe you can read this article (about LGBT activist Kirill Kalugin‘s brave solo protest against the war in Ukraine on Palace Square in Petersburg). We can’t read it because Vladimir Putin is busy building a strong state in which inflammatory opposition news sites like Grani.ru are too much for our weak nerves and tender brains.
Common sense is based on a sense of measure, a sense of proportion. Common sense is simply impossible in Russia, because the very fact the Olympics are being held here does not jibe with any justice of “number and measure,” as Plato called it. Meaning, literally, there are the Olympics, and “there is nothing else to talk about.” The hospitals have no drugs, the countryside has no schools, roads and stores, the universities cannot pay salaries of more than 10,000 rubles [approx. 200 euros] a month, and the most widespread dwellings, after all these years, are shabby nine-storey prefabs, built forty years ago by authorities who still possessed a shred of conscience. If you work in a kindergarten you’re dirt poor. If you’re a pensioner, boil yourself buckwheat and ask at the shop for an eighth of a loaf of bread. And in the midst of all this there is the Olympics. No “discussion” whatsoever is possible here. It was hard to imagine that the renewed tradition of ancient sporting competitions would come to symbolize the total, final and irrevocable humiliation of absolutely all people in Russia.
Source: Facebook (with kind permission from the author)
Triumph of the Will
Every day Nina Toromonyan comes to feed her pets amid the ruins of her house in the center of Sochi.
The house and 25-acre plot with a view of the sea were confiscated by force and the house demolished, ostensibly because they impeded construction of Kurortny Avenue.
Thirteen people lived in the house, three families. They received total compensation of five million rubles [approx 105,000 euros]. Masked riot police toting machine guns evicted them on October 23, 2013, although Kurortny Avenue had already been built two kilometers from Nina’s house.
Her grandfather was officially granted the plot in 1947 in recognition of his heroism in World War Two.
None of the three related families who lived there has been able to buy themselves a house or even an apartment in Sochi. Like vagabonds, they find shelter where they can.
No one touched the homes to the right and the left of the plot. Experts says someone had set their sights on Nina’s property and used Putin’s Olympics to grab it on the sly. In fact, the prices in Sochi are such that the compensation payment should have been no less than forty million rubles [approx. 845,000 euros] .
When the riot police were dragging the bawling women from the house, Nina’s nine-year-old grandson Grisha shouted, “Don’t shoot, don’t kill us!” Trying to calm him down, his mother took his hand and said, “Don’t be afraid, son. They’re just making a movie—about fascists.”
Four LGBT Activists Detained on Vasilievsky Island
February 7, 2014
Four gay activists were detained today on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island [in Petersburg] when they decided to take a picture with a banner on the way to the place where a protest action was planned.
The LGBT activists did not make it to Belinsky Bridge, where they had planned, according to a previously circulated press release, to unfurl the meters-long banner in support of Olympic values.
As Fontanka.Ru has learned, along the way the activists decided to take a picture on the Spit. However, before they could unfurl the banner, emblazoned with the slogan “Any form of discrimination . . . is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement,” police officers arrived at the spot and detained them.
According to preliminary reports, among the detained is a young man and three young women, one of whom is pregnant. They are being taken to the 16th police precinct.
Well, I’m home.
The short version is that during the four hours at Kitai-Gorod police station [in Moscow] Lynne Reid and Knicks Nemeni were handcuffed and kicked, Gleb Latnik was punched and pulled by the hair, and Ginger was put in a choke hold. I got off relatively easy: first, they suggested I “suck their cocks,” then they spat in my face.
Oh yeah, “You all should be burned” was among the remarks they made.
None of the policemen were wearing badges.
They enjoyed themselves. They confiscated our telephones. They sat there looking through our photos and leafing through our text messages.
A defense lawyer (an aide to MP Ilya Ponomaryov) was not let in to see us.
Then I was simply kicked out of the police station, with no arrest report, no nothing. “[He or she] sang a song to the tune of the Russian national anthem with distorted lyrics” was written in the arrest reports of the people who got them.
That’s not true. We sang our country’s national anthem, including the parts about “our free fatherland” and “you are unique in the world.”
We sang the national anthem all the way to the end.
It’s excellent singing the national anthem on Red Square. It’s nice on Red Square in general. We need to go there more often.
Oh yes. When we left the cafe where we met before the protest, the police were already waiting for us. Dear LGBT activists, phones really are bugged, email really is scanned, and text messages are received not only by the people they’re sent to. Use alternative means of communication and take care of each other.
Love triumphs, both at the Olympics and just like that.
In the Fall of 2013 a Russian documentary filmmaker contacted numerous LGBTQ activists and filmmakers from Canada and the United States with whom they had worked with in previous years to screen their films. The message they sent was a request to help fund a film that they believe desperately needs to be made: a documentary by Russian LGBTQ identified people about the impact of the recent anti-gay propaganda law on LGBTQ identified young people. They reached out to us because this film will be impossible to make without the financial support from the international LGBTQ community since funding for such a project is not only impossible, but illegal within the Russian Federation. So it is on behalf of our Russian colleague and their co-director that we are asking for your trust and support to help fund this vital project entitled Children 404.
Ryan Conrad, part-time faculty, Concordia University; Co-founder Against Equality
Thomas Waugh, full-time faculty, Concordia University Research Chair in Sexual Representation and in Documentary
Ezra Winton, part-time faculty, Concordia University; Co-founder and Director of Programming, Cinema Politica
Svetla Turnin, Co-founder and Executive Director, Cinema Politica
Film Description from the Russian co-directors:
Currently there are about 2.5 million LGBT children and teenagers in Russia. In June of 2013 Vladimir Putin signed into law a new bill that forbids “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. LGBT young people are now defenseless because of this “gay propaganda” law. It is now forbidden to tell them that they are healthy and not sick, sinful, or abnormal. Psychologists, teachers, and even parents could be fined or imprisoned for supporting LGBT young people. These LGBT young people are now being bullied and harassed even worse than ever before by peers, teachers, and parents in school and out. This climate of anti-LGBT violence and harassment is permissible because of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law.
The main character of this documentary project is eighteen-year-old Pasha, who survived much anti-LGBT harassment and intimidation at school. After recently finishing school he became an LGBT activist. Later this year he enters a Canadian university and moves to Canada for the foreseeable future. This film will also contains anonymous interviews with young people, parents, psychologists, teachers, and priests on both sides of the issue in Russia.
What We Need
All funding we gather will be transferred directly to our colleagues in Russia. We keep nothing, nor do we act as traditional producers where we influence the content and outcome of the film. We are simply conduits for funding since their lives would be at risk if they were to create an appeal themselves.
The simple timeline and budget shared with us by our Russian colleagues is as follows (in USD $):
- Currently: Fundraising, development, pre-production
- 01/09/2013 – 30/12/2013: Shooting, fundraising, production
- 01/01/2013 – 31/03/2014: Post production
- 31/03/2014: Film release
- Research period: $500
- Travels around Russia $7000
- Overhead charges $3000
- Materials $2000
- Editor $2000
- Sound editor $1000
- Color grade $1500
- Translations $800
- Digital media $1000
TOTAL BUDGET: $18,800.00
As you can see, we are trying to raise a significant portion of their total budget ($10,000 USD or $10,300 CAD) while they are carefully raising funds from within their own communities to make up the difference. Anything we raise over the goal set here will only alleviate the necessity to find funds amongst their own community in these dangerous and demoralizing times for LGBTQ people in Russia.
Directly from the mouths of our colleagues:
“В этом году 2,5 миллиона ЛГБТдетей в России оказалось без возможности поддержки. Теперь, согласно новому закону «о запрете пропаганды нетрадиционных сексуальных отношений среди детей» сказать им что они нормальны – это преступление.”
“This year an estimated 2.5 million LGBT children and teenagers in Russia no longer have any support. Now according to the new bill which forbids ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors’ supporting them and telling them that they are not abnormal is a crime.”
“Документальный проект «Дети 404» – это возможность для ЛГБТ-подростков перестать наконец быть невидимыми и рассказать свои истории зрителям фильма.”
“The documentary project “Children 404″ is an opportunity for LGBT young people to cease being invisible by telling their stories in their own words.”
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can’t contribute financially, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help:
- Send this link on to your networks to help get the word out.
- Stay informed about what is happening in Russia, especially the news and information coming directly from the mouths of LGBT Russians.
*press inquiries can be made via rconrad<at>meca<dot>edu*
On November 3, 2013, the LaSky LGBT community center in downtown Petersburg was attacked by two masked men. Two people were injured during the attack, including 27-year-old Dmitry Chizhevsky, who sustained serious damage in one eye after being shot with a pneumatic pistol.
So I guess I should write something. Many of the doctors are saying the chances of restoring my eye are minimal. But all the same I do not believe them: I still imagine that when the bandage is removed I will be able to see with it again. I guess I have not come to terms with the diagnosis, but I never will! We are now working on a plan involving a trip to a foreign clinic, but I have no passport nor, as it turns out, am I registered anywhere. I had myself taken off the registry at one address and just could not get around to going to my local residence registration office. It is not clear how long it will take to do the passport, but the foreign clinic is willing to write a letter to the Federal Migration Service asking them to speed up the processing. If anyone can help out with this problem, I would be quite grateful. That is the main problem now.
I feel really sorry for the stupid guys who did this to me. I am sure they did not expect such consequences themselves. I will not be demanding they be harshly punished if they turn themselves in and confess to police investigators. Anyway, we know that there were a number of cameras around the site where the attack occurred, that they were caught on them, and that police have video footage of them. Regardless of their behavior, I realize they are only tools. The blame for what happened to my eye lies not with them but with every politician who has supported and stirred the homophobic hysteria in recent months. My disability is on the conscience of Milonov, Mizulina, Yarovaya and other such politicians. If you had treated citizens like human beings, if you had not stuffed the heads of these guys with your hatred, none of this would have happened. You are responsible not only for my injury but also for these fellows, who are facing serious prison terms and ruined lives. Using every legal means, I will be avenged on each of you. The truth is on my side, and sooner or later you will answer for everything.
I want to say a big thanks to my mom, my sister, civil society activists, the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and LaSky. And to each of the hundreds of strangers who has written me kind words of support. You are my heroes. Your commitment makes me believe in Russia, in our people, in our future and in justice. I beg you not to be afraid of anything. I don’t like it, but I realize now is a very important moment: if we cannot get an honest investigation and punishment for the guilty parties (even suspended sentences, if they repent; I won’t harbor malice towards them), then the homophobes will understand they can get away with anything in this country, that they can attack us not only at protests and in clubs but also simply find us where we live and attack us one by one. We must act together to stop the wave of violence beginning before our eyes. I would like to say we had another choice, that we could choose just to live our lives and not be involved in defending decency, honesty and justice, but let’s be honest: actually, I am no activist.
I did not go to LGBT rallies and was not involved in LGBT protest actions. I was around and lent my support, and sometimes I went to closed meetings. But I must admit I was afraid of being an activist, of course, and tried to spare myself. That did not work out in my case. It was an absolute coincidence: I could not have anticipated or prevented this. I realize that anyone, absolutely anyone could have ended up in my shoes. And now I just do not believe there is anywhere to hide from hatred towards us. :( Guys, I ask you to visit or call a Russian LGBT Network branch, find out how you can help, and help anyway you can. Don’t overdo it, but devote at least one hour a week to the fight for justice. Unfortunately, truth, justice and honesty have no other defenders than you.
I would like to make a separate appeal to all activists: a special responsibility now rests on you. I beg you—no, I demand that you now make safety the cornerstone of your work. Be sure to put cameras in your offices; don’t skimp on safety. If you organize protests (and feisty Kirill and Danka are eager to organize something), think over your escape routes and security plan. Assign team leaders to coordinate protests, people every protester can go to. Make sure to provide security checklists for each protest and hand them out to the folks who come to them.
Gay athletes, steroid-using bodybuilders, the dream of all girls and boys! I beg you to be real men and take responsibility at this difficult moment. Help protect the other guys, show them, at last, our fraternal courage and solidarity. Throughout history, the most courageous and fearless troops were our troops. Is that now a thing of the past? Give advice to the other guys about how and where to train, what weights to pump, what classes to take. If you are a coach and, like me, you realize things could not be worse, that terrible times have come to our country, help out by organizing classes and teaching the guys how to fight. Alas, it is very important right now: I beg you not to remain on the sidelines. Thank you in advance!
Thanks again to all of you. Please take care of yourselves. I love you.
Translated by the Russian Reader
LGBT Activists Greet Culture Ministry Chief Medinsky with Rainbow Flags
October 27, 2013
The unpleasant incident took place in Petersburg when Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky was taking part in the Olympic torch relay.
As Fontanka.Ru’s correspondent reports, the Culture Ministry chief took the torch in front of the Yelstin Presidential Library and carried it to the intersection with the English Embankment. During his run, two members of the LGBT movement unfurled rainbow flags, the symbol of their movement.
Police tried to stop the activists, but both young women managed to escape arrest and hang on to their flags.
As the LGBT activists themselves explained to Fontanka.Ru, the purpose of their action was to protest the Sochi Olympic Games [sic], to be held in 2014.
The Olympic torch rally in Petersburg started today at 11:00 a.m. The event will culminate after 7:00 p.m. with a big celebration on Palace Square.
Gay Pride Event in St. Petersburg. Field of Mars, 29 June 2013
Gay Star News
All participants in St Petersburg gay pride arrested for marching
LGBT activists in Russia confirm that police have arrested about 60 participants in today’s gay pride parade for violating the country’s anti-gay laws, while some were beaten and suffered injuries
29 June 2013 | By Jean Paul Zapata, Dan Littauer
All the participants in today’s St Petersburg gay pride parade have been arrested and are being detained in police vans.
Some participants were badly beaten by anti-gay protestors.
Nikolai Alekseev, one of Russia’s most prominent LGBT activists who was arrested last month for organizing a gay rights march, confirmed with GSN that around 60 fellow activists and pro-gay supporters are now in police custody.
Several people also were badly beaten by anti-gay protestors who attacked the partcipants, with some suffering injuries.
Alekseev, who was not arrested since he was standing outside the fenced area of St Petersburg pride, managed to tell GSN that participants were detained for breaching Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ bill that passed Russia’s upper house in parliament to days ago.
Five Russian gay couples, who yesterday in a historical legal move applied for marriage licenses, were also taking part in today’s march and are now under police custody. The chair of St. Petersburg Pride and Equality organization Yury Gavrikov and his partner Maksim were one of the couples arrested.
Dimitry Chunosov, who along with his partner partcipated in yesterday’s application for marriage license, was reported to have been beaten up by the anti-gate protestors.
Gavrikov, who knew he was likely to face arrest for organizing today’s gay pride march, could face double penalties as an LGBT individual and leader of an LGBT organization who breached the local and federal Russia’s gay gag laws.
Both laws have been passed in order to ‘protect minors’ from so called ‘homosexual propaganda’ by punishing offenders with fines and jail sentences.
The Petersburg law bans the ‘propaganda’ among minors of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality, and makes the offense – which has never clearly been defined by lawmakers – punishable by a fine of 5,000 rubles (US$157) for individuals, 50,000 rubles (US$1,570) for officials and 250,000-500,000 rubles (US$7,854-US$15,710) for companies.
According to the Federal law, any media or gay rights organization could be fined up to one million rubles ($30.8k, €23.2k) and shut down for 90 days, individuals could be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3k, €2.3k) and foreigners could be fined the same amount, held in jail for 15 days and deported.
Sources in St Petersburg indicate that the individuals arrested today may be detained for up to two days.
Watch a video of St Petersburg Pride (in Russian):
Thanks to Roman for the heads-up on the first two videos.